Source: News-Journal, August 16, 1973, Centennial Section

Following Footsteps--Four Generations Of Frantz's

In the nineteenth century, when Jacob Frantz was a building contractor, he designed his ceilings at least ten feet high. In fact, the higher the ceiling, the more luxurious was considered the whole house.

Today, say his descendants, Richard G. and Donald Frantz, owners of Frantz Lumber Company, all ceilings are about eight feet from the floor, no matter what size the house is.

"Homes today are mostly the serviceable type," says Richard Frantz. Technology has made the biggest changes in building, enabling the great-grandsons to build their houses better and more comfortably than did the great-grandfather, grandfather, or father.

In 1910, a corporation of which Frantz's were a major stock holder and a partner with Lyman Phillips, bought buildings across from today's Woodcrafts (buildings which are still standing). The company became North Manchester Lumber Co., a Frantz family operation, when Lyman Phillips sold out his share. In March 1926, Ezra Frantz, grandfather of the present owners, purchased the present fourth street location for Frantz Lumber Company.

Ezra's son, Paul Frantz, a 1927 graduate of Manchester College, entered the family business. Don a Purdue graduate with a degree in forestry, came into the business in 1949 and Dick, a business administration major from Manchester College, joined in 1956.

Since the originals used by Ezra Frantz, the company buildings have been enlarged and updated so that a wooden post filled with lead bullets now stands in the display room. A legend says people waiting to resume travel by train (the then busy tracks ran nearby) would pass the time with shooting contests using that post as target.

When North Manchester was surveyed and laid out on paper, the town was divided into lots 50 to 60 feet wide. But for today's fashion of one-level, ranch-type homes it takes almost two of these nineteenth century sized lots.

"You can tell which are the original plottings in the town just by the size of the lots," says Don Frantz.

When Grandfather Frantz was in charge, he would say, "Well, we need a wall about this size and then he would make a wall "about this size". There were no standard sizes, prefinished siding or satiny-smooth paint.

Finished paneling, pre-made cabinets ready to set in, power tools and other products of modern science cut down labor time but Frantz Lumber Company still employs carpenters that can duplicate special bric-a-brac or improvise on their own to make new parts compatible with the beautiful older sections of any home. A major portion of Frantz Lumber business is remodeling but, says Dick Frantz, they often seem actually to be restoring rooms. He calls it the challenge of remodeling to make the new structures fit in with the character and beauty of the original buildings.

The Frantz's consider their craftsmen as good, if not better at their job than were those years ago when everything was made by hand. Today they have more and better materials with which to work. Rather than only four, five or six rooms and no bathrooms or plumbing, no wiring or heating other than a grill in the ceiling to let whatever warmth was downstairs drift upwards--building a house today is complicated.

It was soon after the last world war prefinished and synthetic materials began to be turned out. About 1950 prefinished paneling appeared and now Frantz Lumber Company carries 12 different panels in hundreds of different colors. Even cabinet tops have gone from a choice of five or six colors to a selection among 60 or 70 types. The prediction for future trends is toward more plastics, nylons to replace wood articles.

Today's Frantz Lumber Company is a full service lumber yard, also offering contracting services for homes, remodeling, commercial and light industry. Throughout the years, they have built much of North Manchester and area, including such feats as Seward Professional Center, Manchester Clinic, Snyder's Market, First Brethren Church and "hundreds and hundreds of house."

Source: Aurora (1921) Ad:

First thing you need is a desirable HOME in North Manchester. COTTAGE OR MANSION
See us for Free Building Helps, Plans and Cost Estimates.
We build it complete. Glad to help with suggestions. Own your own home here now.
New homes near College for sale.

Source: Aurora (1925) Ad:

W. Fourth St.
Quality Building Material
Own your own home here. We will be glad to help you with suggestions.
"Service and Price"
Our Motto
Phone Eel River 152    Phone Rex 100

Source: Aurora (1927) Ad:


The Frantz Lumber Company is operated under the management of two partners, Mr. Frantz and Mr. Phillips. The company's original place of business was at their yard on West Fourth Street. Early in 1926 the partners purchased the yard of the North Manchester Lumber Co. on West Second Street and soon moved into their new quarters there.

Our new Gymnasium-Auditorium represents Frantz workmanship. Frantz products are of the best quality and their workmen are efficient builders.

Mr. Frantz and Mr. Phillips are Aurora boosters and athletic fans. We wish to thank them for their interest in our school.

Source: Oak Leaves, February 27, 1947

A Home of Personal Service
Corner Second and Washington

Source: Ravelings (1952) Ad:

42 Years of Service
If you Don't Know Lumber
Know Your Lumber Dealer
Phone: 5
North Manchester

Source: North Manchester Chamber of Commerce Booklet (1986)

Since 1910
FRANTZ Lumber Co.
109 N. Washington St., N. Manchester